Former Philippine President Ramos, Warrior and Survivor, Dies at 94

Ramos became a hero to many for defecting from the Marcos government, where he led the national police force, causing the dictator’s downfall during a 1986 popular uprising against his rule.

However, others did not forgive or forget his role in imposing martial law under the Marcos regime.

Ramos, known in later years for holding unlit cigars, narrowly won elections in 1992 to replace Popular Power leader Corazón Aquino, who had ousted Marcos. Although he garnered less than 23% of the vote, Ramos soon gained 66% support, and his presidency is remembered as a period of peace, stability, and growth.

“Our family shares the grief of the Filipino people on this sad day. We have lost not only a good leader, but also a family member,” Marcos’ son, newly elected President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., said in a statement.

“The legacy of his presidency will always be treasured and will forever remain in the hearts of our grateful people.”

Known as FVR, Ramos attended the US Military Academy at West Point and served in the Korean War in the 1950s as a platoon leader. In the late 1960s, he served in Vietnam as leader of the Philippine Civil Action Group.

Ramos held all ranks in the Philippine Army from second lieutenant to commander in chief. He never lost his military bearing and swagger, boasting many times: “No easy job for Ramos.”

The son of a former diplomat became the only Methodist leader in a predominantly Roman Catholic country.

His six-year administration opened the country’s economy to foreign investment through policies of deregulation and liberalization.

Ramos destroyed the monopolies in the field of transport and communications. With special powers granted by Congress, he has restored the ailing electricity sector, ending the debilitating 12-hour blackouts that have plagued the country.

During his tenure, the economy boomed and the poverty rate dropped from 39% to 31% thanks to his Social Reform Program.

Ramos fought right-wing, left-wing, and Islamic rebels during his time in the army, but later held peace talks with all “enemies of the state,” including rogue soldiers who tried to overthrow Aquino nearly a dozen times during her tenure.

He signed a peace agreement with Islamic separatists from the Moro National Liberation Front in 1996 and managed to reduce the number of Maoist-led guerrillas to over 5,400 insurgents from 25,000 in early 1986.

Ramos was a multi-tasking workaholic and sports leader. When he was a military leader, he played golf and jogged at the same time, chasing his ball. His early morning jog was legendary among his staff officers, and even at 80 he jumped to replicate what he did during the 1986 uprising.

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